A Quest: What Happened to the Republican Party? A Series

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The Republican Party once was the party of patriotism.   Those were the days before the Republican president compared his search for sex partners in New York with military service in Vietnam, which he dodged. (Alexa play: We’ve Gotta Get Out of this Place by the Animals)     Republican elected officials remaining silent when confronted with such an unpatriotic action by the president demonstrates the party’s drifting away from being the party of patriotism.

The Republican president avoids his patriotic duty to pay taxes or make his tax returns public.   Republican elected officials not only do not object to this lack of patriotic fervor from the president many have defended this unpatriotic action. This is not the response of a patriotic party.

A patriotic president would not have nominated a secretary of state who was an oilman with Russian financial interests who was the director of a Russian-American energy company and had received the ‘Order of Friendship’ from Vladimir Putin. This Republican president did just that. And the Republican led Senate confirmed the nomination of Rex Tillerson.

A patriotic presidential candidate would not call upon Russia to intervene in an American presidential election as this president did. Patriotic Republican elected officials would have gone ballistic condemning such an unpatriotic action.  The current Republican elected officials did nothing to address the unpatriotic words and actions of this president.

A patriotic president would not interfere with military discipline or the Uniform Code of Military Justice. A patriotic president would never undermine a military court decision. Only an unpatriotic president would assault the good order, discipline and morale of the military by pardoning a military member convicted of war crimes.

Punishing war crimes is essential to military discipline and the continued protection of military members under the Geneva Convention.   Pardoning a war criminal is a startlingly unpatriotic act by an American president.

The Republican leadership was turned a blind eye to the president’s demoralizing action toward the United States Military. Republican leaders who loudly protest folks kneeling during the National Anthem (an expression protected by the constitution) remain silent while a president commits an undemocratic and anti-military action claiming to defend real warriors.    Real warriors are the military members living by the rules of the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention.   Military criminals are the ones who disregard the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention by choosing to act as the least moral human beings.

Instead of patriotically defending the constitution they are sworn to defend the Republican Senators and Representatives have defended an unpatriotic president.    National polls show the Republican party members overwhelmingly support this unpatriotic president and the congress that supports him.

What happened to the patriotic Republican party?

See you next time.

  (My official photo mid 90’s)   (My official photo 1970)

A Quest: He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

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Brother Chuck came to visit. Chuck teaches G.E.D. classes at a prison   near his home during his semi-retirement from full time teaching. He was surprised by an announcement that the classes would be cancelled during some remodeling in the prison. So, Chuck decided this was the time for him to set out on an adventure to Florida. Chuck is not a ‘traveler’ which made this visit very special for my Jane and I.

In preparation for his visit I pre-introduced Chuck to the grandchildren by stating, “My brother looks just like me only he is taller and better looking.” When the children met Chuck,   Josh piped up, “Your right he is better looking.” That boy better watch out or he may not be my favorite nine year old much longer. Just kidding.

Hanging with Chuck is filled with thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations that seem to never come to an end. Our conversations rambled between politics and philosophy. We were unanimous in our frustrations with the current state of our politics as we fluctuated between hope and despair for the future. We discussed child development to educational ideals. With three educators in the conversation we had plenty to discuss concerning the education process in our country. We shared thought provoking ideas repeatedly.   We even heard a few new antidotes from times when our childhoods did not overlap. We were up past bedtime every night Chuck was here, and we still were unable to finish our conversations. We had a great time making some new memories while sharing our thoughts with each other.

We spent time in the pool,   of course as well as riding bicycles and doing strength training together.   Both of us have been athletes since our early years which has been one of the ties that bind us. Chuck is the superior athlete due probably to his earlier physical development and involvement in organized sports. But Chuck claims I am the one who taught him how to shoot a lay-up so I can claim a small part of his development. By the way, Chuck still plays basketball on a regular basis which is a tribute to his excellent conditioning and in recent years his realization that he cannot play at the speed he did in his twenties (or thirties).

We added a new experience to Chuck’s memories by sharing an air boat ride on Boggy Creek.   We saw alligators, Great Blue Heron   and Florida Sea Cows.   After the ride we ate cheeseburgers and gator bites before returning to the pool.

The grandchildren enjoyed having another playmate on their visits.   During a break in activity Josh asked Chuck how old he was. I am always looking for learning opportunities, so I told Josh, “He is eleven years younger than I am. So, how old is Chuck.” Josh got the answer correct followed by Chuck exclaiming, “You and I added up are not as old as he is.” I suddenly was very tired. The only consolation for me is that the two of them will catch up to me in two years.

The time with Chuck was too short but packed with pleasant words, thoughts and action. After all ‘he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother’.

Alexa play: He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother by The Hollies.

See you next time.

A Quest: What Happened to the Republican Party? A Series.

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In past decades we could count on the Republican Party to be the party of anti-Russia/Communism. Today’s Republican Party not so much. Today every United States Intelligence Agency    has stated unequivocally that Russia interfered with our election process in the 2016 election. The Intelligence Agencies have shared the evidence of this interference with Republican leadership. The leadership of the Republican Party has embraced Russia instead of heeding the warnings of the United States intelligence agencies.

Watching the activity of his party, former press secretary for George W. Bush,   Nicolle Wallace, stated, “The Republican Party has become the pro-Russia, anti-FBI party.”

When Democratic president Barack Obama

was briefed on the Russian election interference, he drafted a joint letter to warn state election officials about computer intrusion threats by Russia. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

obstinately refused to put the name Russia in the letter softening the language to make the caution more generic instead of addressing the eminent threat it was.

The Republican president of the United States does not believe our country’s intelligence agencies. Instead in July 2018 the president said, “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia (who interfered in our election process). I will say this; I don’t see any reason why it would be.” The president followed this statement with these words, “I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”

The Republican Party leadership joins the president and scoffs at the intelligence evidence and instead trumpets unfounded conspiracy theories about the Ukrainian government interfering with our elections. The United States intelligence agencies debunk the conspiracy theory related to the Ukraine. No matter, Republican leadership continues to loudly push this unfounded Russian initiated conspiracy. (Alexa play: Back in the USSR by The Beatles)

During the impeachment process Representative   Devin Nunes (R-CA) tried to change the focus of the proceedings by asking what was the full extent of Ukraine’s election meddling against the Trump campaign?  This is a brazen attempt to change the narrative and push a debunked conspiracy theory created by Vladimir Putin. Representative Nunes isn’t sounding like an anti-Russia/Communist politician.

Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.)   has pushed the falsehood that “both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.” He is trying to muddy the water of Russian interference with another attempt at refocusing the discussion off the actions of the president of the United States and on to a Russian conspiracy theory. Not a very anti-Russia political move.

Today’s Republican Party loudly expresses a preference for a murderous thug like Vladimir Putin over the entire United States Intelligence apparatus. These are not the actions of a party that is anti-Russia/Communism. These are not the actions of a political party that wants to protect our election process from interference by other countries. These are not the words of a political party determined to protect the world from murderous thugs like Vladimir Putin.

I didn’t agree with much of what the old Republican Party stood for, but I believed the party was truly interested in legislating for the best of the United States of America. I cannot say the same today as I watch the Republican Party subjugate itself to Vladimir Putin.

See you next time.

A Quest: Peace on Earth

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The Christian hope of ‘Peace on Earth’ compares to similar hopes in the faith world of Islam and Judaism. This is not surprising due to the truth that all three of these major religious groups trace their roots back to a nomadic shepherd with only a first name, Abraham.

All three faith groups consider The Creator’s family to be the entire human race. In other words, all humanity is created by the One who created. ‘Peace on Earth’ begins when each one of us comes to the realization that every other one of us is a family member loved by the Creator.

Peace on Earth begins when each one of us accepts the other one as equal to each one of us. The Creator’s plan has no levels of society. There is no ruling class and no lower class. In the creation ‘The All Powerful’ expects the creation to respect each other as worthy simply because they have been created. (Alexa play: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns)

Peace on Earth means we live together as Jew, Muslim and Christian, as well as other faith groups.

Peace results when white, black, yellow, red and brown see each other as worthy simply because we are.

Peace envelopes us when conservatives and liberals accept each other along with the moderates.

The experience of peace begins when we are no longer ‘us and them’ and are instead brothers and sisters.

Peace is possible when divisiveness is thrown on the funeral pyre of hate and replaced with a sense that we are better together than we are separated.

So, from my family to yours no matter how much we might disagree we offer to you Peace on Earth. Let’s come together not over politics or social class. Let’s come together because we all are created by the same God who desperately wants us to live together in peace. Let’s come together for the children God created.   Peace on Earth.

See you next time.

A Quest: What Happened to the Republican Party? A Series

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There was a time not long ago that The Republican Party was the party of ‘The Rule of Law’.    What happened to that Republican Party?

In the not so distant past Republican leadership would have demanded that the United States President adhere to 5 U.S. Code 3110 which prohibits the appointment of family members to government positions. The current president has broken the law by surrounding himself with family members in the West Wing of the White House.   The Republican Party elected officials by their silence do not care if the president ignores the ‘Rule of Law’.

Alexander Hamilton    stated, “One of the weak sides of republics, among their numerous advantages, is that they afford too easy an inlet to foreign corruption.” Recognizing the cost of foreign influence on elected leaders the delegates at the Constitutional Convention created the “Title of Nobility” or Emoluments Clause to act as a catch-all for any attempts by foreign governments to influence state or municipal policies through gifts or titles. This constitutional clause states, ‘No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.’ For this reason, elected presidents have placed business they owned when elected into a blind trust so as not to be influenced by any foreign financial transactions that may influence the president’s decision making.

This president has not placed his business interests (and he has plenty of assets in numerous foreign countries) in a blind trust. (Alexa play: Money, Money, Money by ABBA) The Republican leadership in Washington   has blindly ignored this rule of law created to protect the United States of America from foreign interference in our affairs.

A Republican president who sends his private lawyer,

one with no security clearance or government position, to engage in diplomatic activity with another country is not acting within the “Rule of Law” of the United States.

Elected officials in today’s Republican party are protecting the illegal action of a law breaking president. This is not the party of “The Rule of Law”. This is a party that has become the party of Monarchy.

The current Republican president illegally withheld funding for another country legally approved by the congress of the United States. The resulting objection by the Republican Party was quieter than a church mouse looking for food. The president broke the law and the elected Republicans looked the other way. We will soon be living in an anarchy   where the rules depend on what the president determines are rules.

The president has ignored congressional subpoenas and ordered his staff to ignore subpoenas to appear before congress. He has refused to turn over documents requested by and subpoenaed by the House of Representatives. These are not the actions of a law-abiding president. I also believe these are not the actions of an innocent person. Republican leadership has fallen in lock step behind the president in support of his lawless actions. (Not one Republican member of Congress voted for the articles of impeachment against this immoral lawless man.) The ‘Rule of Law’ is fast becoming rule by an authoritarian.

What happened to the old Republican Party that was “The Rule of Law” party?

See you next time.

 

 

Quest: Adventures with Jeff (Part 2)

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Harry Potter was behind us and Universal was in front of us when Jeff and I stepped out of Diagon Alley. This was not the time for us to stop this adventure. Look out Hulk, you big green scientific mistake.   That roller coaster was as fun as I remembered it. The last time I rode that monster was several years ago with daughter Sarah. We were at Universal on a slow day which means no lines for the rides. Sarah and I got right back on after our first ride for a second thrilling experience. (Sarah and I on Rock N Roller Coaster is the only roller coaster we could find of the two of us on a coaster.)

Jeff and I helped save Gotham with Spiderman   and had a close call on Skull Island including being splattered with bodily fluids from a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Jeff even rode ‘The Rock It’ roller coaster which was not kind to his sore rib. I didn’t remember that roller coaster being so rough. But, straight up and straight down…Wow!

The Transformer ride had our heads spinning   and things got hot chasing The Mummy.   For the day we walked a bit more than seven thrill filled miles on a gorgeous Central Florida day.

We gave ourselves a break during dinner at O’Brien’s piano bar before heading back home tired but ecstatic.

Our other adventure during Jeff’s stay in Kissimmee was a trip to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. What NASA accomplished in the sixties and seventies with fledgling technology continues to amaze me. The courage of those pioneering astronauts still astounds. The willingness of everyone involved to continue the quest after tragedies is beyond words. I cannot imagine climbing into a capsule after the fire that killed Grissom, White and Chaffee. The desire, “To boldly go where no man has gone before!” (Captain Kirk) was stronger than the fear that those astronauts must have encountered after each tragedy.   My hat is off to their courage and determination.

I suppose I should cultivate another friend or two as the ‘experts’ suggest. But, I’m having a good time with my two good friends, brother-in-law Jeff and brother Chuck. Our friendships have been honed over decades of time together and I cherish both these guys.

See you next time.

A Quest: Adventures with Jeff (part one)

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Brother-in-law Jeff attended a convention in Orlando last month, so we hooked up for a few adventures at area attractions.    Jeff and I met while both of us were attending seminary in another century. My first memory of my future brother-in-law was a run in with him at a flag football practice. We were lined up opposite each other and I was surprised by his intensity as I tried to block him on the play. We became good friends and then we became brothers-in-law when he married my youngest sister, Randy.

Most advice for seniors is to have a healthy circle of friends. My circle of friends is not large, and I have no desire to create some more friendships. For now, Jeff and my brother Chuck   are my buds. Chuck and I are long distant phone buddies while Jeff is my traveling adventure partner. Maybe I need to do some work on creating a few new friends but that sounds so much like work that there is no impetus to begin the process. Besides, I visit with my squadron of doctors on a regular basis. What more social contact do I need?

Jeff and I have traveled together to baseball stadiums since the seventies. We have been almost thrown out of more places (Burger King, Busch Stadium and The Baseball Hall of Fame to name a few) than we can remember and are proud of that fact. On this latest adventure we wondered if we might be getting too old to be thrown out of places anymore.

Our adventure almost was a disaster when Jeff attempted to avoid a Munchkin during a soccer game. He fell hard on his chest with his left hand in a fist as it slammed into his ribs. He thought he was having a heart attack and I thought we were going to have to call the ambulance. But, never fear, Jeff kept going with what turned out to be a bruised rib. Neither of us was going to let a little pain keep us from our appointed adventure.

We found a place named “The Void”   located in Disney Springs. The experience is a virtual reality adventure. Disguised as storm-troopers, we were transported to the molten planet of Mustafar   to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. The mind is an amazing organ. We both knew we were playing this game in a smallish space on a flat floor. But when we suddenly found ourselves on the edge of a walkway high above a molten lava looking and feeling field I was suddenly very worried about falling in. Fortunately Jeff was closer to the edge because I pushed him through the door first. I am military trained so sending Jeff ahead every time we moved into a new space was the natural thing to do. I wasn’t going to go into the teeth of battle in the front. Are you crazy? We had a blast in the fastest twenty minutes I can remember.

Having saved the rebellion at The Void we took the train to Hogwarts where we did some banking before having to escape from Gringotts.    While wandering around in Diagon Alley   we consumed a Butterbeer   and some “All Flavor” jellybeans.  Never, never, ever eat the rotten egg flavored jellybean. That bean almost made me bring it back up along with my lunch. The dirt flavored bean wasn’t even as bad tasting as the rotten egg. Passing by the Knight Bus the driving head  inform us that he could, talk our heads off.   Of course, he already lost his head over the job.  A Forbidden Journey completed our adventure in the land of Harry Potter before we returned, once again, to the real world. Or at least the world of Universal, Orlando. 

See you next time.

A Quest: Baseball Season is Over

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If you have been following this blog you are aware that My Jane and I are baseball fans. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the team My Jane follows with enthusiasm. The Pirates are my home team as well, but I have a love for the game no matter who is playing.

Of course the Pirates did not make the play-offs-not even close. So we rooted for the National League team, the Nationals in the World Series and enjoyed the unusual visitor’s winning every game excitement.

Seven games in the Fall Classic is always great for me because it keeps the baseball season alive that much longer. Beginning in April My Jane and I watched (in person or on television) over one hundred and thirty games.

But now, the season is over. What will we do? We are in the black hole of baseball’s off season. How can we survive until that February 22nd first pitch of spring training? How will we fill the hours of the day without a baseball game to watch? Here are some of what we are doing to fill in the black hole of baseball’s off season.

Our dentist thought I should have a couple of crowns replaced. So, I had them replaced. That wasn’t really much fun.

Of course, there is the pool.

We can make some new friends. I met this guy at the grocery store. Lillian met a new princess and Josh met a big mouse.

Naps are good.

We can sing “Baby Shark”. Don’t get too close to the shark though, Josh.

Brother-in-law Jeff and I could join the ‘Rebellion’ against the Evil Empire. Here we are at The Void in Disney Springs before ‘becoming’ rebels disguised as two storm troopers on a quest to save the galaxy.

Put a puzzle together with a friend.

Play Uno.

Play video games.

Get in trouble at the doctor’s office.    I took the picture of the sign that says ‘No cell phones” with my cell phone.

Did I mention the pool?

‘Photo bomb’ someone.

Go on a road trip.

I guess we can find enough to do until the season begins next February.

See you next time.

A Quest: Evangelical Whiplash

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The evangelical Christians sitting in the seats must be suffering mental whiplash. The folks sitting in the seats must read the words of Jesus Christ found in the King James Version of the Bible and listen to the words from their leaders and ask, “What the…?”

The evangelical in the seats reads these words from Jesus,   “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5: 43-48

A note to catch everyone up on this passage. In Jesus day the tax collectors were the lowest of low because they were Hebrews who worked for the Romans stealing too much tax from the people. So, when Jesus says, ‘Do not even the tax collectors do the same?’ he is pointing to the lowest of low who are acting civilly to their brethren. In other words, if Jesus’ followers can’t do more than the tax collectors his followers are as scummy as the tax collectors. (Alexa: Play ‘Put Your Hand in the Hand’ by Ocean)

To continue the thought, an evangelical reads this passage in Matthew and says, “Okay, I will love all God’ s people because God sends sun and rain on all the people. Whistling ‘Amazing Grace’ the evangelical enters church ready to listen intently to the preacher. It must be a shock when the preacher spends twenty minutes to a half hour spewing hate toward homosexuals. The preacher tells the person in the seats that homosexuals are not to be loved. “Do not do business with them.” Shouts the preacher. The person in the seats thinks, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”. Whiplash!

“Those homosexuals are not worthy of God’s love.” The preacher continues. Sitting in the seat the evangelical thinks, “And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?” Whiplash!

Leaving church, the evangelical determines to read the words of Jesus again. Opening the bible, the confused church goer looks for the place Jesus says love everyone except homosexuals.   All week the reader scans the four Gospels in search of the words Jesus uses to condemn the homosexuals as unworthy of eternal love. The searcher finds nothing because a person’s sexual orientation isn’t worthy of mention by the Messiah. Whiplash! Jesus says nothing about sexual orientation. A person’s sexual orientation means so little to Jesus that he never mentions it. How do the evangelical leaders take a topic unworthy of Jesus and turn it into a central theme of their theology? I don’t know. Whiplash?

During all that research the evangelical reads this passage from Matthew 25: 35-40 where Jesus says,  “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

“Okay.” Thinks the reader. I get it. Jesus might be anyone in need. It is my ministry to treat everyone with a need like they are Jesus. That makes sense.

The next Sunday the preacher spends twenty to thirty minutes on a harangue about the trouble immigrants are causing our country.   “We must keep them out of our country.” The preacher exclaims to his listeners.

The evangelical thinks, “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Whiplash!  “I was a stranger, and ye took me in:” Whiplash!

How does the evangelical reconcile, “God is love, all the time. All the time God is love.” With the judgmental teaching of the evangelical leadership?   I don’t know. Living with constant whiplash must be devastating to the adherents of evangelical rhetoric.

See you next time.

A Quest: Thoughts on Grandchildren

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Three-year-old Lillian talks a lot. One time she said, “I want a cookie!” Of course any grandparent recognizes a teaching moment when they see one. So, I said, “May I have a cookie, please? Lillian looked at me and commented, “Okay.” This was certainly a moment when I learned something about teaching moments. Will she become a politician?

Walter     lives in a world of autism. The moment he enters our house the cars are dumped out of their containers and put in place. Will he become an engineer?

The three grandchildren show up and literally in ten minutes our house looks like a toy fight broke out. Will the three of them go into the demolition business?

Joshua   and Lillian helped Grandma make play dough which they sometimes play with for as long as ten minutes. One day Lillian made a pancake for Olaf-the snowman in the movie “Frozen”. Lillian force fed Olaf who replied (and this actually was the next sentence Olaf spoke) with the ‘pancake’ flopping as he spoke, ‘Hands down! This is the best day of my life,” We have fun.

Lillian thinks it is important to take pictures when we are outside. Here are a few of the things we had to photograph.  Lillian sees all the little things. Will she be an environmentalist?

The Munchkins (Walter and Lillian love these Micky and Minnie pool covers.) On the way to the pool they pick their cover out of the pool towel bin so they are ready when we are done swimming. We are waiting anxiously for the two of them to be done with diapers. Will the Munchkins be swimmers?

The other day Walter (I cannot imagine where he learned to stick things in his nose.) went outside to drag the kite. Someday he will fly the kite because he is an intelligent little guy. Will he be like Ben Franklin?

We had BBQ pork sandwiches for dinner the other night.    Joshua the eight-year-old wouldn’t even taste some to see if he might like it. My Jane told him later that she was surprised he wouldn’t try the pork. She asked, “Why didn’t you try the pork to see if you might like it?” Josh replied, “I tried a roller coaster Mom thought I would like, and I didn’t like it. So, I’m not going to try stuff.” Eight-year-old reasoning. My Jane and I struggle with how much to encourage him to try new stuff or how much to reinforce not trying new stuff like street drugs. Will Josh survive the teen years in tact?

Lillian entertains us at meal time making faces, talking and even bringing friends from the zoo for company. Is she a comedian?

Grandchildren! You’ gotta’ love them. And I do!

See you next time.